Manager David Bell talks about Phillip Ervin’s six-hit game and the Reds’ 17-9 win over the Rockies on Saturday.
Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati Enquirer
DENVER —– Before Phillip Ervin stepped to the plate in the seventh inning Saturday, teammates told him in the dugout that he needed a home run for the cycle. He already had four hits and this was a chance at history.
Ervin had two runners in scoring position, so he was looking to lift a ball in the air. Even if it wasn’t a home run, at least he could drive in a run with a sacrifice fly. In a two-ball, no-strike count, he fouled off a pitch and then watched a called strike. Once he reached two strikes, his focused turned to just putting the ball in play.
He hit a two-run single up the middle and it turned into history in a different way. After a ninth-inning single, Ervin became the fourth player in franchise history to produce six hits in a game and the first since Walker Cooper on July 6, 1949.
“It feels amazing to go down in history as a part of that,” said Ervin, who was hugged by several teammates in the clubhouse afterward. “It’s pretty cool.”
In a game that featured 26 runs, 39 hits, six doubles, five triples and six homers, the Reds had a historic offensive night in their wild 17-9 victory over the Colorado Rockies. It all happened following a pre-game rain delay that lasted 3 hours and 8 minutes.
The historic numbers? The Reds hit five triples in a game for the first time since June 5, 1929. It was the first time any team ever hit five triples in a game at Coors Field. They became the first team since at least 1900 to hit five triples and three home runs in a game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The Reds had 12 extra-base hits, their highest total since Aug. 26, 2001 at Montreal. They clubbed 24 hits, their most since they had a team-record 28 hits on May 19, 1999, which happened at Coors Field.
For a team that’s been struggling offensively for the past month, the vast outfield and high altitude in Denver was the perfect elixir. The 17 runs were the Reds’ highest total since 2005.
“It’s like Cincinnati, runs are never enough here at this park,” Nick Senzel said. “We have to keep going and going and going.”
The Reds, who trailed 4-0 after the first inning, scored in six of the nine innings. Senzel, Yasiel Puig and José Peraza had four hits apiece. It was the second time in club history that four Reds batters had at least four hits. The first time was in 1940.
Teammates were thrilled for Ervin’s historic night because they’ve seen him bounce between the Majors and Triple-A Louisville seven times this season.
“That was unbelievable,” Senzel said of Ervin. “He’s had a hell of a journey. He’s making the most of out his opportunity. I don’t think it could happen to a better guy. Such a great dude. He can really play. He gets underlooked.”
During the lengthy rain delay, Derek Dietrich went to the weight room for some bicep curls. That was one way to stay ready for the upcoming offensive marathon. Entering in a mid-game double switch, Dietrich smacked a three-run homer in the sixth inning. It was the first time the Reds held a lead.
After Dietrich’s first home run since June 18, Puig followed with a two-run blast over the left-field fence. Puig pumped his fist after his 406-foot homer for a 10-7 lead.
“The ball flies,” Senzel said. “There’s a lot of opportunities for hits because you know us as outfielders are playing so deep. Hard ground balls, bloops and if you hit a ball, it’s going to go. There’s just a lot of hits out there.”
Sometimes it just takes a couple of lucky bounces to start a slugfest. In the second inning, the Reds had two infield hits – including one from Ervin – and an RBI bloop single to right field from Peraza. Another run scored on a sacrifice fly.
Ervin’s first hit of the night had a 46.2 mph exit velocity, well below the league average 87.5 mph. The ball dropped between the first and second basemen.
“It all started with the broken-bat cheapie,” Ervin said. “It’s how crazy baseball can work. You can come up and get blown up the first AB. I made my adjustments and put everything else on the barrel hard.”
Reds starter Tanner Roark had a disastrous 30-pitch first inning. Six of the first seven batters had a hit. Nolan Arenado crushed a two-run homer to left field, hitting a promotional sign that will lead to a $5,000 donation to charity by a healthcare company. The Rockies had an early four-run lead.
Roark surrendered seven runs and a career-high 13 hits in 4 2/3 innings, but at a very hitter-friendly ballpark, there’s no such thing as a safe lead.
The Reds tied the score in the third inning after Senzel opened with a triple in the left-center gap. Joey Votto hit an RBI single to left field and scored on a triple from Ervin.
“It always affects you when you’re not on the Major league team,” Reds manager David Bell said of Ervin, “but he did everything he could to stay ready. He has such a great attitude, is a great teammate, I can’t say enough about it. He’s handled it as well as anyone I’ve seen. It’s paying off.”
Colorado took a 7-5 lead in the fifth inning after solo homers from Trevor Story and Daniel Murphy. The Reds punched back with their five-run sixth inning in a game that lasted 3 hours, 53 minutes.
Jared Hughes was the winning pitcher. He threw one pitch.